Four Ways The 116th Congress Is Ready To Act On Climate

Jan 2, 2019

By Sara Chieffo, Vice President of Government Affairs

Come January 3rd, everyone who cares about the urgent need to fight the climate crisis will have a new ally: a pro-environment majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. LCV Victory Fund made its largest ever investment in the 2018 midterm elections to help elect this majority to the House and to defend the green firewall in the Senate. While we are ultimately going to need pro-climate leaders in control of the Senate and in the White House to enact the transformative climate policies we desperately need, the new House majority is committed to taking action to combat the climate crisis and build a just and equitable clean energy future for all.

Here are four ways we are excited to be working with leaders in the U.S. House to lay the groundwork for action over the next two years:


Climate Change Front and Center


Incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is already taking exciting steps to make climate change a top priority in 2019. She has tapped veteran lawmaker Kathy Castor (D-FL) to lead the select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and the incoming chairs of the Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources, and Science Committees are already planning early hearings on climate change. Dozens of members of Congress and new members-elect have joined calls for a Green New Deal to create good jobs and accelerate a just transition to a clean energy economy.


New Environmental Champions


The 116th Congress includes 56 new members who have committed to LCV’s Clean Energy for All campaign goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050, which will help build pollution-free communities. Leaders like Colorado’s Joe Neguse, who co-founded a nonprofit that engages young people to act on climate, clean energy advocate Mike Levin from California and Green New Deal champion Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York are all ready to hit the ground running on bold climate solutions and to fight back against the Trump administration’s attacks on our environment. We look forward to working with the entire House majority — longtime members and new voices alike — on policy solutions that tackle the climate crisis.


Oversight and Accountability


The new House majority will have the power to conduct badly needed oversight of the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on environmental and public health protections and climate progress. They will be able to get to the bottom of the undue influence of corporate polluters on agencies like the EPA and the Department of the Interior, while holding members of this administration accountable for unethical behaviors and policies that put profits over people.


Climate-Smart Green Infrastructure


Our country’s crumbling and outdated infrastructure is in dire need of a major overhaul, and there is increased focus in Washington on the potential for bipartisan collaboration to fix this problem. We need an ambitious plan and major public investments in everything from modernizing our electrical grid to expanding transit and building out electric vehicle infrastructure, from our drinking water infrastructure to our inefficient buildings, and from stopping our pipelines from leaking methane to nature-based green infrastructure.

Incoming Speaker Pelosi is making infrastructure a central part of the new House majority’s agenda and is committed to a package that will build the green infrastructure of the future. In December, Leader Chuck Schumer told Trump that to win Democratic support in the Senate for any infrastructure package, the proposal must transition our country to a clean energy economy and increase our resilience to the dangerous impacts of climate change. An infrastructure package must also maximize the benefits for communities, the environment, and workers by creating good paying jobs, reducing carbon and other pollution and be a major down payment on our transition to 100 percent clean energy.


With a new House majority committed to smart climate solutions and a strong green firewall standing in the Senate, it’s clear that any major legislation — like an infrastructure package — will need to address the realities of climate change in order to pass both chambers of Congress. And with nine newly elected governors who are committed to 100 percent clean energy, the states will continue to lead the way in climate progress.

The scientific reality of climate change is clear and the time for debate has passed — now is the time to take action. LCV will continue to work with environmental champions towards real, equitable climate solutions in the 116th Congress and beyond.